Back to Basics
This winter, look for a little cold–weather comfort at these neighborhood favorites.
Diablo is dedicated to covering the best in fine dining, but we also follow our hearts (and stomachs) by paying homage to our region’s homiest establishments. This month, we trade flights of fancy for comfort food with a side of cozy, which feels especially welcome after the bustling holidays. We’ve dished up our favorites: places that have recently opened, relocated, or changed concept to cater to this hunger for relaxed, neighborhood-style restaurants.
Photography by Angela Decenzo
Once hidden on the pristine property of Moraga’s Hacienda de las Flores, this homey gourmet café debuted in its Rheem Boulevard location late last summer. The new decor is priceless, incorporating reclaimed wood from Cal Memorial Stadium benches, antique chairs upholstered with burlap coffee bags, and local art, which adorns the light gray walls. Lattes served in French-style bowls and just-squeezed orange juice in Mason jars are served with fresh pastries. Equally welcoming are soulful dishes such as the weekend chiles rellenos bake and the bacon and poached egg salad. 337 Rheem Blvd., Moraga, (925) 388-0841, homemadekitchen.com. Breakfast and lunch Tues.–Fri., brunch Sat.–Sun.
Must try: Mango brioche French toast with dollops of vanilla mascarpone.
Extra helping: The café serves breakfast and lunch until 2 p.m., and packs dinners to go.
Photos by Shannon Mcintyre
It’s the laid-back and welcoming lounge that makes Izzy’s (named after the owner’s father) such a neighborhood draw. At happy hour, you can enjoy hearty comfort food such as grilled sausage polenta for around $7. And homey entrées during Izzy’s three-course early bird supper (roughly $21) include braised short ribs and Mary’s roast chicken. Izzy’s made a flashy debut last winter, and its dramatic ambience and killer wine list remain, but it has evolved into an affordable, come-as-you-are treasure. 3160 Danville Blvd., Alamo, (925) 820-1711, izzysplacealamo.com. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat.
Must try: A dessert rack of four house-made mini ice-cream cones.
Extra helping: The gluten-free menu offers more than 20 dishes.
On the outskirts of Livermore, this cozy, open-all-day restaurant delights every local who stumbles upon it. The portions are as generous as chef Eduardo Posada’s gregarious nature, the presentations as colorful as its Southwest decor, and the dazzling yet unfussy plates as delicious as any found downtown. Especially enticing are the corn cakes smothered with braised duck, tacos stuffed with spicy mahimahi, and tostadas loaded with fragrant char-grilled shrimp. 988 Murrieta Blvd., Livermore, (925) 606-1004, posadacatering.com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.
Must try: Tender short ribs draped with blackberry mole.
Extra helping: The beverage menu includes an astonishing array of Livermore’s best wines.
This beloved café recently moved into a historic home to accommodate its ever-expanding family of regular diners. Two dining rooms separated by an inviting courtyard, communal tables, mismatched plates and silverware, and the best coffee bar this side of Seattle make Sideboard the homiest hangout in Danville. You can drop in anytime, but Sideboard is especially popular for breakfast, when it offers house-made granola, goat cheese “pudding,” and scrambled eggs with Feta and spinach. 90 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 984-2713, itsonthesideboard.com. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Must try: Classic grilled chicken breast salad with Point Reyes blue cheese, smoky bacon, and creamy avocado.
Extra helping: The café sustains you (with comfort food) while embracing environmental sustainability (green certification).